By: Fr. John Jasica

LACE UP YOUR SHOES TIGHT FOR LENT

Several days ago, after a long day in the office, I looked forward to watching a very anticipated men’s college basketball game. It was Duke versus North Carolina. This is a very significant rivalry since the schools are simply miles apart. Both teams are totally amazing and definitely in the hunt to win the March Madness tournament.

I got my drink, some food and turned on the television to watch—excited and looking forward to a great game. Who knew how things would change within the first minute of the game. Zion Williamson, a superstar player for Duke and definitely a first round pick for the NBA this summer, literally ripped apart one of his shoes causing a sprained knee and subsequently is now out due to injury. Some have pointed to the weakness in the shoes he wore, but if you have ever seen Zion Williamson, you would really have to wonder if it just wasn’t his immense power that caused his foot to rip out of his shoe!!! Nevertheless, when you play sports you need to really lace up your shoes tight!!!

A GOOD LENT MAKES A GREAT EASTER

Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday. We mark ourselves with ashes remembering to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. That is what Lent is all about. It is a chance for us to get back on track, to renew our commitment to Jesus and change our ways. It is a race to Easter, and the joy and enthusiasm we have for the resurrection is directly connected to our Lenten discipline and practices!!!

How can we be sure to have a meaningful Lenten season so that Easter fills us with true joy and new life?

1) MAKE COMMITMENTS TO PRAYER

Lent invites us to go deeper and seek a stronger relationship with Jesus. There are many different Lenten opportunities right here in the parish that you can commit to which will help you get to Easter.

Mercy Mondays – Each Monday during Lent we will have Mass at 6:30 pm with the Anointing of the Sick and prayers for healing in the world and the Church followed by the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Friday Nights of Grace – On Fridays during Lent we are moving the Mass from the morning to the evening followed by the Stations of the Cross. The stations in and of themselves are a mini pilgrimage to the Holy Land following the path of love Jesus took for our salvation on the cross.

Podcast Mission and On-Line Resources – This year we are offering a digital parish mission that can be accessed via the parish website or on CDs that can be picked up for free at the INFO CENTRE right at the parish. This way you can listen at your own pace and in your own time—at home, on your way to work or even during a walk!!!

You can also go to the parish website and find special links for the Lenten journey. There are so many ways to connect and deepen our prayer — will we take the time?

2) CHOOSE DISCIPLINE THIS LENT

One of the major customs during the Lenten season is to give something up or to even take an extra something on. This is rooted in seeking discipline this Lent. It does mean making a decision to give up television, chocolates or even Tim Hortons.
We could even decide to take extra time for prayer, more time with the family or even take extra time to rest. Whatever you choose, choose something that will allow Jesus into your life more. I could choose to give up fish for Lent, but I don’t even eat fish. That becomes meaningless for me. Taking some time to slow down, be quiet and reflect more on the countless blessings God has given me — that would help me open up to Jesus more and more.

Whatever you choose to give up or whatever you take on, may it challenge you to be more open to God’s love, mercy and grace. If we are consistent and determined in the discipline of Lent, our lives will get better and better.

3) CHOOSE TO SERVE & REACH OUT

Lent is not simply about us and our own personal lives. Our faith is rooted in serving others — especially those who are in need. This call of service is not a seasonal function. Christmas is certainly the season of great generosity and help for those in need but that slowly fades by Lent. This sacred season invites us to weave into the fabric of our lives generosity, love and service to those in need and those who suffer in all seasons.

As Jesus offered himself on the cross for us, innocent and without sin, we too, are called to offer who we are and what we have for those who are suffering, alone and without hope. How can Lent ignite the fire of God’s love and service in our lives?

It begins with prayer but moves to action. You can join the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Knights of Columbus or the Catholic Women’s League. All three organizations in different ways reach out to those in need and serve the community as a whole. You can volunteer at the Foodbank, Men’s Mission, or the Ronald McDonald House just to name a few. The are no shortages of organizations and groups that do amazing work right in our own city that could use more help. The question becomes — Will I choose to change my ways to God’s way? Will I serve my brothers and sisters?

DON’T FALL ASLEEP THIS LENT

After Zion Williamson left the game, I relaxed on the coach to enjoy the rest of the game. Unfortunately I fell asleep and missed it all. Don’t fall asleep this Lent!! Get running!!!